Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Florida Springs

There are lots of ways to sort the many, many natural springs in Florida.  For example, springs where manatees congregate and those where they don't. Or large, well-known springs and smaller, county springs.  I divide them into the two categories that make the most sense to me:  those you can swim in and those where no swimming is allowed.

During my last trip to Florida, my family went to one of each.  The state park we were at had recently taken over Florida's oldest tourist attraction, Silver Springs.  No swimming allowed, although glass-bottom boats were invented there in the 1870s.

Over fifty springs form the headwaters of the Silver River.  That's one of the many facts we learned on our one-hour, glass-bottom boat tour. Another interesting fact was that the theme park used to feed the fish at one particular spring. When the state park took over, they stopped feeding the fish.  It only took the fish three days to figure out no more food and stop appearing whenever the boats showed up.  Smarty-pants!

We saw a number of fish, birds, and a rather large turtle, as well as two sunken boats.  Both of them were quite old, one indigenous and one Spanish.  It was a fun day.

The second spring we visited, DeLeon Springs, was much smaller, but you could swim there, which makes it better, at least in my opinion.  Also, the spring water is always 72°, which is balmy compared to the ocean I swam in a day earlier.

It's quite the amazing place.  You can learn to scuba dive there, see the nose of a manatee (we did!), and even cook your own pancakes.  That's right, at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant, griddles are built in the middle of the tables and pitchers of pancake batter are served for patrons to make their own pancakes.  Extras available for the hotcakes include chocolate chips, bananas, blueberries and even peanut butter.  Our family ate there to celebrate the successful half-marathon run of my middle niece. Congratulations!

A sweet ending to my Florida travelogues.

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